Piper Lined Up for Wrong Runway before Las Vegas Midair

 - August 8, 2022, 11:44 AM

The July 17 midair collision between a Cessna 172 and turboprop-converted Piper PA-46 occurred as both aircraft were on short final for Runway 30R at North Las Vegas Airport (KVGT), according to a newly published NTSB preliminary report. Killed in the accident were the pilot and passenger aboard the Piper and the instructor and student in the Cessna.

Only the Cessna was cleared to Runway 30R, while the Piper had been cleared to Runway 30L, the NTSB said. Up to the moment of the collision, the Piper pilot had repeatedly acknowledged the clearance to land on 30L.

The Piper was arriving on a Part 91 IFR flight from Pappy Boyington Airport in Idaho and the Cessna was already in the pattern for right traffic to Runway 30R. Before handoff to the tower, approach instructed the Piper pilot to overfly the airport midfield for left traffic to Runway 30L.

The Piper pilot contacted the tower and reported “descending out of 7,600 feet msl for landing on three zero left and Nellis said to cross midfield.” The tower controller responded, “Continue for three zero left.” The pilot reported, “Okay continue for runway three zero left…we will cross over midfield.” The Cessna pilot received clearance for a “short approach” and for the option to Runway 30R.

About 20 seconds after clearing the Piper to land, the tower controller transmitted, “I think I said it right, runway three zero left, runway three zero left.” The Piper pilot responded with “yeah affirmative runway three zero left that’s what I heard.” There were no further transmissions from either airplane before they collided about a quarter mile from the approach end of Runway 30R.